Thursday, April 17, 2008

Darfur Crisis Update: Blame is Irrelevant, So Are Alibis & Excuses, There is So Much More that Could Be Done

For More Compelling Photos from Mia Farrow's Journeys, click here.

Darfur Crisis Update: Blame is Irrelevant, So are Alibis & Excuses, There is So Much More that Could Be Done

By Richard Power

Think of all bizarre utterances of CNN's resident whack-job, Glenn Beck. (For example, CNN's Beck: "If you're an ugly woman, you're probably a progressive as well".) And yet, CNN doesn't apologize to anyone for his on-air antics.

Well then, why did CNN feel compelled to apologize to China for the remarks of Jack Cafferty, a decent man who delivers common sense commentary and just got a little carried away? (See CNN apologises to China over 'thugs and goons' comment by Jack Cafferty, Times Online, 4-16-08)

Ah, yes, it is all about money isn't it? The Chinese money that floats the US debt, the corporate sponsor money that underwrites the Olympics, etc.

Look here is the ugly truth, China and the thugocracy in Karthoum have a special relationship. It is unambiguous. China imports most of the thugocracy's oil, China sells it most of its weapons, China provides it with cover in the UN Security Council.

Blame is irrelavent. It does not matter that there are two sides to the conflict in Darfur. Alibis and excuses are ineffectual. It doesn't matter that the International Olympic Committee has other obligations. It doesn't matter that Coca Cola, one of the Olympic sponsors, has donated millions for water in Darfur.

China's sponsorship of the thugocracy in Khartoum would be reason enough to challenge Western corporations' sponsorship of the Beijing Olympics. But then Burma, another thugocracy with a special relationship to China, was added to the mix; and then Tibet, where China's own security forces are doing the dirty work.

Now the Beijings Olympics is at the center of a great awareness-raising campaign.

Again, blame is irrelevant, so are alibis and excuses. It doesn't matter that there is injustice elsewhere, it doesn't matter that there is hypocrisy everywhere.

All that matter is that something get done.

It is unfortunate that the Olympics must be dragged into this struggle for hearts and minds, but it is an opportunity that cannot be passed up -- for the people of Darfur, for the people of Tibet, for the people of Burma.

Dream for Darfur has issued a report on the IOC.

Here are some remarks from Mia Farrow.

This Report Card documents how the IOC has shirked the messy and difficult business of the genocide in Darfur. Yet the IOC, whose headquarters sit safely in the lovely Swiss town of Lausanne, could have done so much. The IOC has contacts at the United Nations. It has this special Olympic Truce in its own charter which promotes “respect for universal fundamental ethical principles” and was signed by hundreds of prominent individuals including Nelson Mandela. The IOC enjoys relationships with Olympic corporate sponsors worldwide, including some of the most powerful transnational companies on the globe. Further, the IOC has a network of 200 national Olympic Committees -- each boasting prominent members. The IOC has young athletes at its beck and call, role models and potential spokespeople for humanitarian causes.
And above all, the IOC has the Olympic Games. This is an organization with global reach, and great potential power.
The crisis in Darfur is, after all, a genocide being underwritten by the IOC’s chosen Olympic host. What has the IOC done to end the first genocide of the 21st century?
Nothing -- despite the fact that when it awarded the Games to China seven years ago, the world knew then that there would be human rights issues to confront now. The IOC has had nearly a decade to plan for human rights contingencies. But when I traveled to Switzerland to discuss with them what they might do to help bring peace to Darfur, they did not offer a single idea. They did not have a clue. ...
Reuters, 4-16-08

For the Dream for Darfur report on the IOC, click here.

Of course, it is not only the IOC which is trying to run away from our responsibilities to each other, it is also the corporate sponsors of the Beijings Olympics.

On the same day Coca-Cola Co. executives issued earnings and met with shareholders, a human rights group Wednesday blasted the Atlanta-based beverage company and other Olympic sponsors for not doing enough to stop abuses in Darfur.
"The Olympics are not about billions of dollars from sponsors," said Jill Savitt , executive director of Dream for Dafur, which has been pressuring Coke and other sponsors since last year to stop ongoing violence in Darfur and Tibet. "The corporate sponsors have been silent about Darfur, and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) has been silent as well."...
In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Savitt said Dream for Darfur plans to issue a report card on Olympic corporate sponsors in the next two weeks. Companies that receive a "C" grade or lower will be greeted with demonstrations at their corporate headquarters, she said.
They also will be targets of the group's "Turn if off" campaign, calling for Olympic television viewers to change the channel or turn off their TV sets when the sponsor's commercials air.
Atlanta Journal Constitution, 4-16-08

See also Why Protecting the People of Darfur, Tibet & Burma is in Our Own Self-Interest; & What These Crises Tell Us about Our Own Slide into the Pit and Wangari Maathai Will Not Carry Olympic Torch, In "Solidarity with Other People on the Issues of Human Rights in ... Darfur, Tibet & Burma ..."

I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

Click here to sign the TURN OFF/TUNE IN Pledge.

For a Words of Power Archive of posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Here are other sites of importance:

Dream for Darfur

Enough: The Project to End Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Genocide Intervention Network

Divest for Darfur.

Save Darfur!

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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